Monday, 3 June 2013

What's your excuse?

Among the other unpleasant aspects of infertility treatment is needing to explain your absence from work during your appointments. It is particularly hard for anyone who has any type of scheduled clients, meetings or visits. Not only do you feel guilty about the fact that your absence is affecting others, but there's a public record for everyone in your office to view, and thus wonder why you need to be excused so frequently.

I hate having to lie. I'm not very good at it, and I fear that I'll get caught. I often work out the details of my back story with precision, trying to determine what type of flaws could be exposed. It's hard to find the right balance. If you don't provide any reasoning, it looks questionable, but if your alibi comes across as being too rehearsed or too specific in the details, that can also arouse suspicions.

Sometimes I don't give any explanation; my recent IUIs have been scheduled at 11:30, so I'll have a hold placed on my appointment slots after 11:00 and I'll just offer that I need to leave early. It's been a little harder for some of my monitoring appointments, which tend to be scheduled mid-morning and require me to leave and return in the same session. I feel a little more obligated to justify why I'm slipping out for only an hour. Fortunately, as I have really bad teeth, dental appointments have been my default excuse. The irony is that I haven't been to the dentist for a routine cleaning in nearly a year and I'm looking for a new dentist that works nights or weekends, as I can't take any time off from work for a dental appointment, even if it is legit.

Two years ago, I had a failed root canal that eventually required an implant, so I've been able to repeat that history. Routine cleaning finds a cavity. Need to go back for follow up X-rays. Dentist determines it needs a root canal -refers to endodontist. Endodontist thinks a root canal will only be temporary, recommends implant. Oral surgeon agrees proceeding with implant is the best course. That back story bought me five absences. Unfortunately, it's reached the end of the line as the next step of the implant process involves extracting the tooth and 6 months later installing the implant. When I actually had it done, I took the rest of the day off as my mouth was packed with gauze. I can't fake the effects of the transient Bell's palsy that comes with having dental procedures preformed.

Although there are a few people at work who know the truth behind my departures, at times I've been tempted to completely come clean, just so I don't have to lie any more. Then I remember that there is a reason I've only been open with a few selected individuals. I don't want everyone I work with to know such an intimate detail in my life and I don't want my work colleagues to follow my treatments and to be able to ask, "so, are you pregnant yet?"

So now I'm trying to be creative and think up new excuses. One day it was because we were getting our alarm service inspected. When I was leaving DC recently, my connecting flight was held up on the Tarmac for over an hour. Last year, I was bumped off a flight and had to cancel an entire day's schedule of patients due to my delay. I thought it might actually happen again, and although I made my flight, I contemplated claiming that I didn't, just so I could cancel out my morning. It would have been nice, I could swim, go home and get cleaned up before my RE appointment and then go into the office early and catch up on results and messages before the afternoon session.  I would feel too guilty about cancelling on patients at the last minute (many who have also budgeted time from work) and I would be too fearful of getting caught, especially as I once nearly ran into our office manager coming out of my RE's office. However, I still could exploit the situation. I claimed that I did miss my connecting flight, but was able to get on another flight that arrived at a nearby airport. My bag however was on the re-routed flight and I needed to leave to pick it up as it arrived off the carousel.

I do hope I get pregnant soon. Otherwise, I'll have used up all my potential excuses by the time I need to be dismissed for prenatal appointments.


  1. I'm lucky in that although I have a busy schedule, I am usually in control of making it (except for meetings, trainings, etc.). But, I often have to hold off on scheduling things I need to get done because I don't know when I'll need to go to the RE (e.g. waiting to see what my ultrasound shows before scheduling an IUI).
    I've used various excuses otherwise, but try not to go into detail-- saying I have a doctor's appt, going for blood work, taking dogs to the vet, dentist, picking up someone from the airport, husband's car broke down, etc.
    I did tell my boss after my second miscarriage, because I needed the rest of the day off work & was visibly upset. But I haven't told her anything about it since, and just use these excuses. It's tricky!

  2. I am exhausted just reading this! But I support you not telling people at work - keep yoru privacy!!! And when you are going to prenatal apts, you can tell the truth!

  3. This sounds so familiar. I too use the dentist excuse, but only twice. Or else early lunch hour, running and errand for my parents, bad traffic, etc. Fortunately I make my own schedule throughout the day, but my absences are still noticed by my teammates.

    Tough stuff. Hang in there! Wishing you good things to come!

  4. I was lucky to not be working during my IVF so I didn't have to worry about it. My RE's office does open at 7am so I probably would have made all my appointments first thing so I didn't miss work. Not sure how I would have handled the retrieval and 3 days of bed rest my RE recommends, though. Every time I got a call for a job I would work out whether I could take it based on my IVF schedule. I probably wouldn't want the whole office to know that's what I was doing. It's crazy.
    Hopefully this won't be an issue for much longer.

  5. Seeing your therapist (this usually results in no follow-up questions and if someone asks you can just say it's private). This could buy you at least one appointment per month. I've done a lot of "dropping off" or "picking up" my car from the shop for the short appointments. I HATE lying too...but I did not want my co-workers that involved in my personal/medical life. I know your struggle on this...hope these help.

  6. You are creative! My office knows all about my adventures in TTC so I can be honest when I miss days at work or have to leave early. Also works when I'm cranky ;)

    I hope you get pregnant soon too :)

  7. I was pretty lucky, all our bloodwork and ultrasounds are done before work (so we're in at the clinic super early) and most of my other appointments have been mid-day so I just take a late lunch or something. Except for my retrieval and transfer, which I just told my bosses about. They're very supportive of me having whatever time I need, but if you feel the need to keep stuff to yourself then I bet it gets exhausting coming up with new ideas! Ooh, try jury duty. That's a new one.

  8. I started my new job RIGHT when I started my IUIs. I initially sat down and told my manager that I was going through medical treatments and would need to go to several appointments a month. However, I ended up breaking down and telling my manager and it is so much easier having her know the truth. She said her daughter went through something similar so she said she could relate. It was really nice. My three immediate coworkers know. I hope you just get pregnant and can just tell everyone you have prenatal appointments ;)

  9. My work is actually great in this respect. I just tell them that I have a dr appt and they don't ask what it is for. I also work from home two days a week and I do my best to schedule apps on those days so that I don't have to head into work a little later. My clinic was also very good about having early u/s appts while cycling- as early as 6:45.

  10. I work at a university as a department admin. When I am out, everyone notices. My role is so visible. Initially, I discussed my miscarriage openly with a select few. As time went on, I shared less and less, not realizing how long this process could go on. Luckily, my actually boss has been amazingly supportive. I am getting a new boss in September. He's pretty laid back, so should be fine. I just hate when I'm out and people try to pry. Are YOU ok?? I wish they'd just ignore my absence. So tough! I had to tell my professor this semester when my miscarriage caused me to not finish the readings. Could you say you've started physical therapy or you're taking a class or something work related? Think of something ongoing that makes sense, so you avoid the stress.

  11. When we were doing IVF, I had to let our immediate staff know what was going on since I had to miss so much time. But this last cycle I was able to schedule all the appointments for my days off, which was perfect! It's exhausting trying to try keeping everything as private as possible. Sounds like you've been able to do an amazing job so far.